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My Five Favorite Players in the Draft

| April 23rd, 2018

There is now so much draft shit available it’s hard to make sense of any of it. Hell, even here there’s more than in the previous ten years combined thanks to the efforts of Data and Andrew. So I won’t pepper this yearly column with too much detail. Instead, here’s who I love in this year’s draft. If you look back historically, these guys usually tend to be pretty good in the league.


5. Troy Fumagalli, TE, Wisconsin

He’s battling a sports hernia, limiting his ability to do much for the pro scouts in draft lead-up, but the Aurora native should be healthy for the start of the 2018 season. This kid can play at the next level. He’s not going to be a star but he’s going to be a steady, tough contributor. He’s a poor man’s Heath Miller. And he’s going to fall too far in this draft.


4. Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado

Simply love this player and this kid, as I wrote in a Saturday Scout column in November. If Pace is as enamored by athleticism as many believe, how can he not be enamored with a decathlete?


3. James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

This is another player featured in a Saturday Scout piece last season.

I’m a firm believer that good football players don’t need excuses. Josh Allen and Sam Darnold have excuse makers littered throughout the football media but ultimately both just weren’t good enough in college.

Washington was great. 226 catches in four years. Nearly 4500 yards. 39 touchdowns. And he got better every season. Hopefully Washington ends up on a team with a strong-armed QB who will be able to utilize his ability to completely destroy the back-end of a secondary.

Side note: I’ve Tweeted several times that I don’t like the quarterbacks in this draft. That’s only semi-true. I like Mason Rudolph and Luke Falk as mid-rounders who’ll contribute in the league for a long time.


2. Quenton Nelson, Guard, Notre Dame

A few years ago I wrote that Aaron Donald was far-and-away the best player in the 2014 draft. That was based purely on his football playing, nothing else. Not cones or sprinting in spandex or his work on the pommel horse. When one watched him play, one saw an NFL star.

Nelson is exactly the same player on the other side of the line. If Chris Ballard lets him by the Colts at #6 Thursday night, he’s insane. (But don’t worry, his friends in the press will still celebrate him as a genius.) If Ballard passes, Andrew Luck should sucker punch him in the building Friday morning.

Nelson is the best player in this draft.


1. Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia

  • Pursues the ball carrier like Harry Carson.
  • Ability to get sideline-to-sideline is Urlacher-esque.
  • Coverage ability reminiscent of young Derrick Brooks.
  • 6.5 sacks his senior year showed he can get into the backfield and wreck havoc.

The only player in the 2018 draft I’m hoping ends up in a Chicago Bears uniform. This kid is special.

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Da Saturday Scout: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado

| November 11th, 2017

Player: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado

Game: home vs. USC (#15), 3:00 PM CT


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via GIPHY


What They’re Saying

  • From Luke Easterling at USA Today: “This 6-1, 195 pounder was tested early in the year, and opposing quarterbacks learned their lesson rather quickly. With 10 pass breakups and two interceptions through eight games in 2017, Oliver has shown off the length, physicality and athleticism NFL teams need from their top corners on the outside. He should be creeping into the first-round conversations slowly but surely.”
  • From Chris Trapasso at CBSSports.com, projecting Oliver to Pittsburgh with the 29th pick: “The Steelers like what they’ve gotten out of Joe Haden thus far in 2017 yet realize he’s not a long-term solution at the cornerback spot. Oliver can be. He’s a smooth athlete and has the track speed to stay with wideouts down the field. He has three interceptions and 22 pass breakups in his Colorado career.”
  • From Kyle Fredrickson in the Denver Post“I don’t see all the other corners all over the country and the way that people evaluate them, but I definitely think (Oliver) is a special talent, no doubt,” MacIntyre said. “He’s extremely bright, a great family, a sharp young man. To me, he’s the full package.”

I Think

I love this player. And Ryan Pace, who looks for athleticism above all other things, will get a kick out of seeing Oliver compete in the decathlon. Kid is an athletic freak and one hell of a corner.


Why Watch This Week

Because Oliver is facing USC’s Sam Darnold. Darnold is turning the ball over way too much in 2017 (11 picks) but he’s also completing passes at a 63.6% clip, with nearly 3,000 yards and 22 touchdowns already. This is going to be a prime opportunity to evaluate Oliver against a solid professional prospect who gives defensive backs a chance to make plays on the football.

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